samedi, décembre 23, 2006

"Indochinese Triangle" Plan : Another Opinion

News From Cambodia N° 0661-E

ANOTHER OPINION ON THE « Indochinese Triangle » PLAN

Khemara Jati
Montréal, Québec
Décember 18, 2006

We reproduce below another opinion relating to the vietnamese plan transforming our provinces of the Northeast as back country for the vietnamese ports on South China Sea.

The democracy it is the dialogue between different opinions on the same subject. So our readers can find a better idea on the subject.

The author of the article below, entitled quite rightly « The “Triangle” of new conflicts » by Dy Kareth. This article is worth with our article « News of Cambodia N 0647 - The road of liberation of Cambodia from the Vietnamese domination » to qualify that this project tends to annex our provinces of the Northeast by Hanoi.

The article raises, on the other hand, information of major power's helps. The problem is to know how to consider as good or bad for Cambodia and Cambodians, the helps of major powers and even of Vietnam ? We know by experience that any major power, any country what so ever helps us only to defend its geostrategic interests (1). Never lose and mislead this essential point of view for our future. Then on which bases the major power's helps can be judged or evaluated ? Are the helps of such or such major power 100 % bad or 100 % maids for us? On what bases judging them ?

For that purpose, should not we evaluate our needs to unit Cambodians first. But how to unit our fellow countrymen ? Simply by calling for the gathering ? Can Union / Unity be made without at least certain number of public or at least convergent interests ? In all developed country such as South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia or Vietnam for example, national unity is based on the following criterions :

A/ The common cultural identity based on the same language a/. spoken, b/. written and c/. printed for the whole people and taught from maternal up to university, with the second foreign language from a certain level.

B/ The economic development and the prosperity for the whole people. For that purpose, factories are needed to make and develop any kinds of utilitarian products and a certain level of technologist going to high-technology industries with strong added values. It is also necessary to clarify that an important part of these factories has to be in the hands of Cambodians: capital and manpower at all levels.

In these conditions a better social climate will be established gradually.

C/ A permanent improvement of the communications inside Cambodia, with the specific aim of allowing the fast movement of the persons and the goods then transforming our whole country into a real back country to develop our port of Kompong Som.

The strategic base of all these objectives is the forming most quickly in big number of engineers, technicians in any kind, doctors, historians, archaeologists, philosophers of higher level possible to work in these factories more and more high technologies as well as in laboratory research in any kind. The education and the research are the employments of tomorrow, the guarantor of our national independence.

In another article we shall examine in detail the major power's helps, their utilities for us, according to the criteria mentioned above.

Notes : Cet article est disponible aussi en français sur demande.

(1) « The treaty of San Francisco is also the occasion to fix the mode of payments in term of the war damages. The system adopted by Japan in the Asian countries victims of destruction opts for a payment in kind or in the form of public loans, or private. This principle turns out very favorable to the Japanese interests, because Japan needs to open new markets considering the fact that the American market of the time cannot absorb its products little adapted to the American domestic demand. The capacities taken in 1952 thus offer on a silver tray of the Asian markets and uncountable infrastructures to build. » In « Japon – Vietnam, History of a relation under influences » by Guy Faure and Laurent Schwab, Ed. IRASEC, Paris – Bangkok 2004, page 42.

CFC/CBC Newsletter December 9, 2006

According to Vietnam, the “development Triangle” or “Indochinese Triangle” is a vast area of high plateaus and virgin forests covering approximately 120,400 square kilometers, encompassing ten Cambodian, Lao, and Vietnamese (CLV) border provinces, and it forms the sparsely populated center of French former-Indochina (1). The “official” creation of this Triangle was announced in 1999 in Hanoi by the “brotherhood” of Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese prime ministers, and it was solemnly proclaimed in Vientiane (Laos) in November 2004, during the ASEAN 10th meeting. At the 2004 proclamation, a “Master Plan” for the Triangle was adopted. Between then and now, lands belonging to “Montagnards” of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, were brutally looted through one mean or another, by the governmental authorities, the former dispossessed owners are driven out to other insalubrious areas, if they are not killed yet (2).

Japan which is solicited by Hanoi to become that largest “funding provider” for Vietnam, lended its “support” to this creation, however, until now, it only promised a small amount of 2 billion Yen (US$ 17.3 million) of aid for “some mini-projects,” in contrast to the Vietnamese minimum demand of US$ 300 million for social and educational projects. For two years, without sufficient funding, the Triangle Master Plan has a hard time to be implemented, with the exception of the “common safety and defense” portion. Nevertheless, quite to the contrary, the project was not abandoned. With its “new role in the region,” anointed by its new alliance with the USA – an alliance which became official during the APEC summit in Hanoi last November – Vietnam immediately summoned a new “summit” meeting (held on December 4-6, 2006, in Da Lat, Vietnam) with the other two countries which are engaged in the Triangle, as well as the chiefs of the provinces involved, and Japan.

Priority and special policies
The joint declaration, at the end of the past December 5 “summit” of three CLV prime ministers, is largely a repeat of the 2004 “Vientiane” summit, it includes the needs to “mobilize funding sources for development projects already agreed upon,” each of the three countries must reserve a “priority” share of its national budget for the development of the Triangle. In Da Lat, it was determined that there is a “necessity to establish common priority and special policies in favor of the Triangle in order to create a favorable investment and business environment, aiming at attracting investors from the three countries, as well as, from third party countries, to this Triangle.”

In fact, since the Vientiane summit, the mobilization of funding sources and its responsibility placed upon Cambodia and Laos, was not actually be coordinated by Hanoi. Laos which is closed up by the Vientiane dictators under the framework of their “special relationships” with Hanoi, lives a stagnant economy for the past 30 years. Receiving only a small amount of contribution from the International Community, and even less from foreign investments, the Lao economy had long been dependent on Hanoi’s goodwill. However, with the resumption of the relationships between Laos and mainland China in 1988, the economic exchanges between the two countries had also multiplied. China, becoming rich, provided to Laos (and its leaders) important financial and technical “assistance,” in particular for the construction of roads, bridges, hydroelectric dams in Western Laos, with the obvious aim at attracting Laos into its sphere of influence. Laos, in spite of its marvelous promises to Hanoi, did not have the means to finance its portion of the development in the Indochinese Triangle.

Thus Hun Sen’s Cambodia is left to contribute to this Triangle because, for some times now, Hun Sen received more than US$1 billion in international aids and low interest loans, as well as foreign investment projects worth several hundreds of million of dollar. However, Hun Sen does not look like he is able to find available funding means for the development of the “Master Plan” in Cambodia provinces. Even with “an average economic growth of 8.2% from 1994 to 2005, and of 13.5% in 2005,” according to his own words, Mr. Hun Sen is unable to increase between 10 to 20% the meager salaries of government employees which amount to an average of US$ 40 per month – a salary which is unchanged for a decade long. Only corruption, which is estimated by economists to be more than $600 million in 2005, is amplified with these economic growths, thereby digging a deeper gap between the rich and the poor. Next to these no-interest loans and “uncontrolled” aid, which Mr. Hun Sen is pleased to cite for his own self-gratification, mainland China is becoming the largest foreign investor (US$ 448 million in 2005, and almost the same amount in 2006) in Cambodia, taking the lead over from Japan, South Korea and Malaysia. China is now everywhere in the country with its capitals, its buildings, its roads, its factories, its construction fields, its workers, from Stung Treng and Mondulkiri to Kampot and Sihanoukville – where Mr. Hun Sen just allows China to “co-create” with him a modest special economic zone (costing US$ 100 million) in front of the future Cambodian oil fields.

However, Vietnam which oversees an even larger economic boom, and which is receiving for several years now, billions of dollars in aid and foreign investment, could also not mobilize one portion of its capitals for the socio-economic development of the Triangle, with the exception of several “private” coffee, tea, rubber plantations, and a small dam along the Sesan river. Hanoi’s grandiose idea which was expressed in 2004 and recently confirmed in Da Lat, is to set in motion the “common Coordination committee (which must) meet yearly – at the level of governments and at the level of provinces involved – to develop common and special priority policies for this Triangle, and to call for the three countries, third party countries, and international organizations to invest in it.” In other words, Vietnam will progressively forced its two “partners,” especially Cambodia, to submit beforehand all their decisions, as well as their budgeted expenses, and the administration of international aids and the authorization of foreign investments in their respective countries. From now on, Vietnam is doing all it can to closely manage the development of Cambodia and Laos’ economy to be in tune with the demands of that of Vietnam. Mr. Hun Sen will then have to review the options of his economic “policy”, at least those options related to the Chinese investments in Cambodia.

An eminently strategic position
Up to now, the Triangle was only “frequented” by army troops, and by Lao, Cambodian, and Vietnamese anti-government rebels. Nobody really thought about improving the livelihood of the indigenous tribes which populate this area, and which serve as auxiliary forces to one fighting group or another. Given the geography and the demography of the region, its development would represent a real financial abyss which no one dares dream for a profit in return, even in the long run (3). But, it constitutes nevertheless, a new colonization space for Vietnam which, with its 85 million of population and a population growth rate of 2% per year, is facing insurmountable demographic problems and severe socio-economic crises, which could constantly undermine its internal stability. In terms of policies, according to Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, the Triangle must “contribute in an active portion to the strengthening of the relationships of cooperation in traditional friendship between the three peoples … The leaders of the three countries (are) determined to bring the relationships between the three countries to a new height of traditional brotherhood, integral cooperation, understanding, and reciprocal confidence.” Nguyen Tan Dung, the new prime minister, just like his predecessor, sees in it “a new basis for the consolidation of peace, stability, integration, and development of the Mekong sub-region, and of the region.” The Triangle will then serve to eliminate a good portion of the Vietnamese crisis.

Now, to Hanoi’s leaders, the major factor of instability in Laos, and, most of all, in Cambodia, is the increasing influence of Beijing in these countries. The current Chinese presence is even visible in the Cambodian side of the Triangle with Chinese road constructions in Stung Treng, forest exploitations in Mondulkiri, and mining exploration units in Ratanakkiri, etc…, which also cause conflicts with local populations. In Vietnam’s opinion, these Chinese investments threaten the “stability” of the Triangle, and those of the three “Indochinese” countries. China also represents a “danger” for the entire region, that was why Mr. Nong Duc Manh, the chief of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), while receiving Mr. George W. Bush in November, was encouraging the US to strongly invest in Vietnam again, and to “put aside the past and look at the future,” in order “to establish a complete cooperation” between the two countries, including the military sector.

Furthermore, at the military level, no one knows the Triangle area better that Hanoi’s generals who have constantly used this area during and after the two Indochinese wars. The Triangle occupies “an eminently strategic position on the political, economical, social, environmental and ecological levels…” (Mr. Phan Van Khai, January 2002), for the control of Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam by Hanoi. Currently, thanks to the eventual financial – and possibly military – aids by Japan and the USA, Hanoi would again be able to impose its views on the economical and political choices to Vientiane and Phnom Penh, and thus be able “to cut” the land road of the Chinese advance towards the Gulf of Siam. At the same time, Vietnam would consolidate its colonization of Laos and Cambodia (4) and would be even successful in integrating these two countries in its Indochinese Federation which is so desired by the CPV, but this time, with the full blessing of western countries.

In front of such political objectives embedded in the Triangle project, the problem of the latter’s economic development becomes more haphazard than anywhere else in the world. However, in this project, Vietnam already engages itself to develop, at various levels with Laos and Cambodia, hotbeds of new conflicts out of which, it will come out as the major winner … this presumes that China, Vietnam’s major current competitor, will be willing to withdraw itself out of the “game” quickly enough.
(1) These are the provinces of Gia Lay, Kon Tum, Dac Lac and Dac Nông (in Vietnam); Attapeu, Sekong and Saravan (in Laos);Stung Treng, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri (in Cambodia).
(2) Dy Kareth, The expansionist “Development Triangle”, Published by CFC-CBC, Paris, August 22, 2005.
(3) According to AKP, after returning from Da Lat, Mr. Hun Sen and his ministers call on “private companies to invest in the Northeast region of Cambodia, included in the CLV development Triangle, in order to turn it into a 4th economic region by 2015, following the development of the Phnom-Penh, Sihanoukville and Siemreap economic regions.”
(4) In 2003, the number of Vietnamese “immigrants” in Cambodia since 1979 had already reached 4.5 million for a total population of 13 million in Cambodia.

December 9, 2006

Dy Kareth
Cambodia's Borders Committee : ( ) Email : ( )